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The annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America was held virtually this year from Oct. 21 to 25 and attracted participants from around the world, including scientists, physicians, and other health care professionals. The conference featured education courses and comprehensive educational programs that focused on the latest advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of infectious diseases. The meeting also provided insight into emerging infections, new diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutic interventions.

In one study, Sarah R. Blevins, Pharm.D., of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and colleagues developed a multidisciplinary plan for opioid use disorder treatment, which can be accomplished within an infectious diseases clinic.

The researchers applied the Ryan White model of HIV treatment to opioid use disorder. Using this model, the researchers were able to provide wrap-around services, including medications for opioid use disorder, within their infectious diseases clinic. They were also able to provide transportation assistance to and from appointments, which was helpful for the rural population. The investigators were able to provide proof of concept.

“We hope that by presenting our treatment model we will be able to inspire other clinics to take a look at their practice models and consider adding this service to their practice,” Blevins said. “Infectious diseases and addiction medicine have become interlinked. It’s imperative that we find models that effectively address the opioid crisis.”

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In another study, Matthew B. Goetz, M.D., of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, and colleagues observed a broad increase in antibiotic use in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) inpatient medical facilities participating in an antibiotic stewardship program during the initial surge of COVID-19 cases, abruptly reversing a steady four-year downward trend.

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This multifaceted nationwide VA program for antibiotic stewardship was implemented in 2010 and led to steady year-to-year decreases in antibiotic use in the VA from 2015 to 2019. In contrast, compared with January to May of 2019, antibiotic use increased by 5 percent in January to May of 2020, raising the number of antibiotics used to levels last seen in 2016. Use of antibiotics to treat community-acquired pneumonia and highly resistant bacteria also increased from January to May 2020. Furthermore, the investigators observed an increase for antibiotic use in VA facilities that were not highly affected by COVID-19, which suggests a weakening of antibiotic stewardship practices.

“Additional work is needed to determine the causes of increased antibiotic use during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic and the appropriateness of such therapy,” Goetz said. “Further research is also needed to determine why despite caring for large numbers of persons with COVID-19, antibiotic use did not increase in some facilities. Such work may provide information that can assist in strengthening programs to improve the quality of care.”

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Thakur “Paul” D. Persaud, M.D., Ph.D., of the City of Paterson Division of Health in New Jersey, and colleagues found that a local public health department’s workforce can be cross-trained to form an effective team of disease investigators to address large-scale outbreaks, epidemics, or pandemics when needed, even when financial resources are limited.

The researchers evaluated the effectiveness of cross-training existing staff at a public health department to perform contact tracing. The training began prior to the pandemic and included a 25-person team that expanded to a 50-person team, who interviewed more than 90 percent of individuals involved in local positive COVID-19 cases early in the pandemic.

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“Clinicians should partner with local health departments on issues of public health and prevention. In the case of COVID-19, physicians can make timely referrals to local health departments and share information that would be vital to follow up with case investigations and contact tracing,” Persaud said. “Doing otherwise will prevent timely isolation and quarantine of infected and exposed individuals. This has tremendous implications for reduction in community-wide disease transmission, and slowing the spread of the infectious agent.”

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IDSA: Fauci ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ for COVID-19 Vaccine by Year’s End

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Anthony Fauci, M.D., the leading infectious disease expert in the United States, said on Wednesday he is “cautiously optimistic” that a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by year’s end.

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